A breathtaking goal from veteranJuan Roman Riquelme proved to be the difference as Boca Juniors exacted revenge on defending South American champion Corinthians, winning the Copa Libertadores round-of-16 series 2-1 on aggregate to advance to the quarterfinals. Boca won the first leg 1-0 at La Bombonera, while a 1-1 draw in Sao Paulo on Wednesday was enough to take the six-time South American champion beyond the team that beat it 3-1 on aggregate in last year’s final.
Riquelme, who actually retired after that game only to return when coach Carlos Bianchi took charge of Boca again this year, shocked the Brazilians with an unstoppable looping shot taken near the right touchline in the 25th minute. The former Argentina international’s goal was particularly deflating in that it came less than a minute after Corinthians was denied a goal due to a controversial offside decision. It also meant the defending champ would need three goals to win the series, thanks to the away goals rule. Though Paulinho managed to equalize early in the second half, two more goals proved to be beyond Corinthians, with substitute Alexandre Pato guilty of missing a guilt-edged chance before the final whistle.
"We were confident in the team... we played a good first half, we knew the second would be complicated but now we're going to celebrate," Riquelme told Fox Sports after the game. Holding midfielder Leandro Somoza added: "We've not been in good form but we played two great matches.”
Indeed, Boca badly needs to turn its domestic season around. The storied club has failed to win its last 12 league and is currently 19th in the Argentine Torneo Final table.